I’ve always quite liked fishing mini-games. They’re often peaceful and relaxing and something you can do as and when you please. Normally there’s something you need from fishing, some sort of recourse required to build something else. But fishing is just a… a thing to do. Nothing special, just a little mini-game.
In Minecraft though? It’s probably one of the most broken things in the game.
Originally, fishing was a pain in the ass with pretty much no real reward. You could use the fishing rod either catch one type of fish or to hook onto mobs and move them around. There was no variation or anything and fishing was tedious in general. But also, aside from food, fishing had little use. When Ocelots came along, you could use raw fish to try and tame them (often with limited success) but still, not that many uses.
Later on, in 1.7.2, fishing sort of exploded. It became usable.
The main reason was because fishing became easier to do. Originally, all you could do was watch and wait for the bobber to bob and reel in, with a small window of opportunity to catch. In 1.7.2, there are lots of splashes and things to indicate that you can fish in a particular, and a trail of particles will race towards the bobber to give you time to reel in.
But fishing isn’t just easier, it also rewards a ton of stuff. There are more types of fish – normal fish, salmon, puffer fish and clown fish, all with various (not always useful) uses. You can eat them all if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s also a chance to fish random junk items, such as leather boots and damaged fishing rods, random sticks, rotten flesh or, weirdly, bowls and bottles of water. Honestly though, the odd bone or bit of leather can come in handy, especially if you don’t have any farms set up yet. But you can also fish out some INSANELY good stuff.
And when I say good stuff, I mean good stuff.
I mean, to the point that if you want to find a saddle for your horse, you go fishing. If you want a name tag, you go fishing. It’s far more efficient than going spelunking and looking for chests in caves, dungeons and all that. You can also find damaged but enchanted bows and fishing rods, occasionally with multiple powerful enchantments on them. Or you can cut the middleman out completely and find enchantment books.
Non-vanilla multiplayer servers tend to give even more expensive treasures. I’ve played on multiple servers with tweaks to fishing, including one that had a level-up MMO-style system, and fishing could reward anything from coal to iron ingots to cookies, to chests of loot to stacks of fucking cakes. One server I used to frequent had increased levels for enchanting, so you could fish up enchanted books with Fortune VII, Unbreaking VI or Efficiency X on them!
But what makes fishing rods powerful is that they gain experience every time you catch something, while also being enchantable themselves.
Fishing rods have several main enchantments. As well as Unbreaking and Mending (which are enchantments on all gear), you can get Lure and Luck of the Sea, which increase the amount of catches and the chance of good loot. Mending though acts unusually on fishing rods though, because it’s a chance to mend an item every time the player gets experience. But because you get experience every time you catch something, you have a really high chance to repair your fishing rod. With the right enchantments, you could have a permanent, indestructible rod!
On top of all of that though, fishing is a relatively safe job. Sure, in 1.13 and onwards, oceans are a lot more dangerous, but you only need a small block of water to be able to fish. In fact, in 1.13, you can make AFK fishing farms that will easily get you chests full of loot.
So yeah, if you can’t be bothered to deal with enchanting, just go fishing!